Thursday, August 5, 2010

"5 Common Hotel Complaints From The Hotel's Point Of View"

5 Common Hotel Complaints From The Hotel's Point Of View

Most complaints have their sources in genuine accidents, no hotel is really trying to ruin their guests' visit, but while some common complaints are more than valid, theres always another side to the story. Believe it or not, there are reasons for hotels doing some of the things they regularly do that drive some of their guests to irritation. Heres a list of some of the most frequent complaints made against hotels, and some reasons as to why hotels behave the way they do.

Lost Bookings: Okay, so youve booked your room on Hotwire, packed your bags, made the trip, and now that you've arrived at the hotel it seems that they had no idea you were coming. This mistake can have many reasons behind it.

Firstly, how long ago did you booked your stay? Keep in mind that when you book a room on a website like, or Expedia, in many smaller hotels the booking is not instantaneously entered in the hotel's database. What typically happens is a three step process where the website sends the information to the hotel in the form of an e-mail or a fax, which is then entered by hand into the system by one of the Check-In staff, then a confirmation is sent from the hotel to the booking engine. Its surprising how many people don't realise this. I once had a guest book a room on Expedia as he was walking in our front door, and he was quite taken aback that his booking wasnt instantly recorded by the time he made it to the front desk.

There is also the possibility of human error. Sometimes things get entered into the system wrong, or the hotel gets overbooked. While no hotel will ever willingly admit that they've made this most disastrous of mistakes, it does happen. However, most hotels have an understanding with another, similar hotel in the neighbourhood that they can move overbooked guests over to, in case the unthinkable should happen.

Cancellation Fees:

Many hotels will charge a fee if you cancel your booking at the last minute. While larger hotels might be able to absorb the loss, it makes good sense for small hotels to adhere to some sort of cancellation policy. In fact, we have a 24 hour cancellation policy here at Nuvo. In our defence, we only have 32 rooms and if someone cancels the day of their booking theres a pretty decent chance that we won't be filling that room. Since it actually represents a fair chunk of change for us, we have a cancellation policy in place to help us break even on last minute cancellations. However, if theres a good reason for the cancellation (like a family emergency, flight cancellation due to a volcano, car breakdowns, or ninjas), we'll likely waive any fees. Housekeeping Ignoring the "Do Not Disturb" Sign: This is one of the more greivous mistakes a hotel can make, in my opinion. Once you've put down your money for the stay, the room belongs to you, and you should be able to get a little bit of privacy. Not to mention that random people walking into your room while you're sleeping is terribly invasive.

There are reasons why the housekeepers do it, though. Housekeeping staff usually work in shifts, and since they usually have lives outside of work, are not available to clean rooms 24/7. They really only have a limited amount of time to do all the cleaning for the day, and every occupied room has to be cleaned. Its also very common for guests to leave the room without taking down the sign on the door, so if its past a certain time of the day, its standard practice for housekeepers to poke their heads into a room to check and see if anyone's actually in there. Also, in a situation where it's the last day of the reservation where a guest hasn't checked out on time, or informed the hotel that they will need a late check-out, with another guest trying to check in to the same room... Well, in that case housekeeping, after getting approval from management, may very well enter a room, more to try and figure out whats going on than to clean it, though.

Additional Room Charges:

I personally hate this one when I travel. You check into your room and eat a granola bar from a bowl on the counter, only to find out two weeks later that you were charged $4.00 for it. That kind of upselling is sneaky and, dare I say it, dishonest. There are also hotels that will charge extra for services that you have no way of opting out of. Thats just the hotel managements way of bringing in as much money per booking as possible, sometimes to the irritation of their guests.There are some cases in which having additional charges added to a booking can be argued as being reasonable. For example, here at Nuvo there is an extra daily fee should you require the use of a parking stall. We do this because we don't own the stalls ourselves, we rent them from our neighbours. Woking the cost of keeping those stalls into the standard rates for the hotel and causing every guest to pay for them, whether they need a stall or not, seemed wrong.

So, we worked out a rate that allows us to keep the stalls for our use without having to charge everyone who walks through our doors

Charging Extra for Internet:

I have no argument for this one. Any hotel that is still charging its guests for WiFi needs to re-evaluate its pricing. These days, a simple high-speed WiFi set-up costs very little to maintain, and theres really no excuse for not offering it to paying guests free. If Coffee Shops can do it for free, why cant $400 per night hotels? Thats right Starwood Hotels, Im looking at you.


Jonathan Meier is the Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Nuvo Hotel Suites, a stylish boutique hotel specializing in long term stays in downtown Calgary, Alberta. Check out the trendy suites at

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